This great war has lasted but a few short weeks, and already the lists of killed, wounded, and missing on each side have risen to many thousands. The very thought is appalling! Thousands maimed in body for life and sent back to their different homes as cripples and dependants. Thousands hurried, in the prime of manhood, into an eternity for which possibly not many were prepared. Thousands of widows left to weep, and tens of thousands of children bereft of a father’s guiding hand.
Whatever the military result or the political gain or loss may be, it is only too clear that the deepest and widest wave of sorrow that ever rolled across the face of the earth, in all its history of tears, must roll this year. Future occasions may witness even deeper waves, but to us who live today the immensity of the conflict comes as a thing wholly unknown.
One precious result may be perceived in the prayerful sympathy of the church at large, and the commonly felt need of the Throne of Grace at such a moment. Possibly never before has prayer to the “God of the spirits of all flesh” been more importunate. The convulsion is so enormous, and, in view of it, the arm of man so feeble, that hearts turn, well-nigh spontaneously, to the God who “does as He wills in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth,” that He, who alone has the power, may show great mercy and arrest the flow of blood on all hands. Prayer for such mercy is surely meet.
Possibly, too, the hearts of all His dear children—those in whom His Spirit dwells—are consciously knit together in this common cry. It is they who know His mind, His desire, His heart; who stand in His counsel; who seek to represent Him here below; who are imbued with the nature of the love which is of God; who are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. They feel, as others cannot, the need of divine intervention, and therefore in deep, secret intercourse with God they plead for the one thing which that Throne alone can bestow—mercy and grace for help in time of need (Heb. 4:16). Shall they cry in vain? Never! But might not this blending of hearts in prayer, this unison of sorrow, lead to a greater and fuller union in life and testimony?
It is not the world alone which must suffer by this terrible war; the church, the saints, must share in the common woe. Bereavement, trial, poverty will enter many a Christian household, and over it too shall roll the wave of sorrow. Is no lesson to be learned by this? If one member suffers do not all suffer? May there not therefore be a great deal more practical sympathy between all the members of Christ, be their nationality what it may?
If one effect of this time of sorrow should be to reunite in true, divine and holy love the entire family of God, now so disunited, so divided by party and school, to bring together, under the tears of a common lamentation, hearts which should never be divided, to lead us, all the world over, to humble ourselves before the God whose chastening hand is stretched out over all the nations, and to concentrate our thoughts and affections on our Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour, Lord and Head, and that in view of His speedy return—if such an effect should result, then the wave of sorrow would have rolled with blessing indeed. The curse of war would in mercy be turned into healing, and the reproach of a divided body be wiped away.
God has a voice for His people in the fearful upheaval. May He grant us the open ear that hears His voice.